Gallery funding questioned
On Thursday evening I was one of many people who attended a meeting at the East Bowral Community Centre to discuss council's proposal to give two and half million dollars of ratepayers' money to a private art gallery. We heard from leading environmental activists that council plans to take almost half a million dollars from the Environment Levy, funds that are set aside for improvements and repairs to the natural environment of our Shire. In no way can an art gallery be considered an appropriate use of those funds.
Mayor Gair also spoke at the meeting and made it clear that council was forced into making a rushed decision to help fund this project; they scrambled to find the money and made a hasty commitment to provide the funds in a closed (ie secret) meeting with no community consultation; and, now that the commitment has been made, it seems they're not interested in what people, who care for the environment, have to say about it. This stinks to high heaven and raises a number of troubling questions:
- Why was this decision made in a closed council session? What have our elected representatives got to hide?
- Can council legally take money out of the Environment Fund for any purpose they choose without consulting the community?
- If so, how can we stop them from taking more money from the environment for future pet projects?
- If council is so strapped for cash that they have to take from the Environment Fund then why are they offering to donate such a huge sum of public money to a private enterprise in the first place?
- Has council done the research and can they prove that this art gallery will bring at least $2.5M worth of benefit to the shire and how will it provide $500k worth of benefit to the natural environment?
So I am writing to ask for two things:
1) to request that you and your staff investigate this situation thoroughly and inform the voters and ratepayers of this shire about the legal, ethical and moral ramifications of this questionable proposal by council and;
2) to request that your readers take action by letting council know that we will not stand for them taking from our public Environment Fund to pay for a private art gallery.
Make your vote count
While I am a firm advocate for the right to have a say on election days, regardless of whether they are local, state or federal elections, I have to say I'm a little over the endless campaigning of what seems like forever.
I wouldn't blame people for being a little confused about who to vote for or what each candidate stands for, and a I wouldn't blame people for being doubtful that anything much will change regardless of who is elected to lead our country.
But I truly hope that this doesn't stop people from voting.
I'm proud to be a part of a democratic society where I have the right to vote. Sure it is only one vote but it counts.
I hear people talk about choosing not to vote, or planning to make donkey votes and I feel sad that they make this choice. Let's just hope that whoever does get the majority vote stays in for the full term - no more election spills.
READ ALSO: The countdown to Tulip Time has begun